Today, the House of Representatives has passed its budget resolution for 2018 by a majority of 13 in what many consider to be the first step in passing Donald Trump’s new tax reform bill later this year. The resolution sets up a process of protecting the GOP from any attempt by the Democrats to block the bill via a filibuster in the Senate.
However, the close vote also indicates that tax reform has a long way to go. Despite gaining a majority in the House, 18 Republicans voted against the bill with the Democrats. The Democrats themselves were quick to criticise the bill, claiming that the majority of Americans would be deeply affected by the reforms and that the bill was essentially an excuse for billionaires to benefit from tax cuts. Some of the Republicans who voted against the resolution were also concerned that the reforms would add to the growing deficit bill and that more time was needed for a bipartisan effort.
Tax reforms have been one of the major promises from Donald Trump whose campaign last year emphasized the need for major reforms in the tax system, advocating for the biggest rearrangement in the US tax code since Ronald Reagan. Trump claimed that the system was outdated and left millions of middle-class Americans and hundreds of US businesses worse off because of it.
Despite the first sign of victory, the plans are still unclear and vague which worries many Republicans in both Houses. The reforms will face a tough uphill struggle, especially in the Senate where Republicans hold a slender majority and where some of the fiercest critics of both Trump and the reforms have already indicated their opposition. The fact that the recent failures to repeal Obamacare have left Congress with precious little time to debate and vote on tax reform further complicates matters.
This first victory will be a morale boost for the Republicans and Trump will celebrate his first major step to seeing the US tax code reformed. However, as the votes suggest, Trump will have a tough time fulfilling another one of his promises. The GOP has only a few weeks to get his tax reforms through before they focus on the 2018 mid-term elections. Trump is keen to avoid another major defeat and the GOP needs something to show for their time in power.
A battle has been won, but now the real fight begins.